Editor’s note (Jennifer Lee): For our last issue, each editor was tasked to fill their section with pieces on a theme or topic they feel strongly about. I was torn between doing something on rape culture or racism, but after doing a takeover on the Gazette’s Instagram, I decided I wasn’t done talking about mental health.
The Instagram takeover, namely the response to it, showed me the necessity to have people talk openly and honestly about shit mental health. This is a collection of just a few individuals who have struggled with their own mental health and their stories.
Name: Laura Lowe
Occupation: 4th year Psychology and Health Studies Student
Labels: Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression
Tell us about your mental health.
My panic attacks and depression come in random spurts: I can be fine for a few months, and then have a few weeks of feeling like I have absolutely no control over my body or feelings.
When I’m feeling “good,” I tend to make myself believe I don’t actually have a problem, and that I don’t need help. Sometimes, I tell myself I don’t need to go to my counseling appointment, or take my medication. I think that’s one of the hardest aspects of my mental illnesses: they try to make me believe they don’t exist.
How did you first realize something wasn’t right, mentally?
I first started experiencing panic attacks in high school, around the same time my family was going through some major challenges. Therefore, I just assumed my panic attacks were situational, and would subside when other aspects of my life got better. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I realized they weren’t getting any better. It’s extremely difficult to accept the fact that your diagnoses are part of you. They do not define you, but they undoubtedly influence who you are.
What don’t people know about mental illness?
I was first diagnosed with mental illness nearly five years ago, and my entire bachelors degree has been spent learning about various mental illnesses, yet I still feel like I can’t even begin to grasp the concept. While it’s great to speak openly about mental health struggles to increase awareness of the topic, it’s important to recognize that mental illnesses are unique for everyone.
What’s your favourite self-care method?
Board games! For as long as I can remember, my family and friends have been getting together to play all kinds of games: everything from Scrabble to Dutch Blitz. Games are a great way to forget about whatever is causing you stress, and focus on your strategy instead.
What advice would you tell someone who is struggling with mental health?
Short and simple: utilize the resources available to you. Whether that includes friends, family, the mental health mobile crisis team, co-workers, psychologists, counselors, phone apps, etc. There are so many resources at your fingertips for your benefit and well-being. It took me far too long to take advantage of these resources.